Advent 2019: Dates, Themes and Other Interesting Things
Everyone doesn't celebrate Advent, and some people don't know what Advent is. This article will explain what Advent is, the dates of Advent, the four themes as well as other interesting things about the season.
First of all, Advent is a very important period in the Christian year. It is four weeks observed by many Christians just before the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. Advent is in a way similar to Lent which is the period just before Easter that is celebrated just before Jesus died on the cross. Both are periods of waiting expectantly and preparing for something great to happen in Christianity.
Advent comes from a Latin word that means "coming." While disciples of Christ celebrate the birth of Jesus when He came to earth the first time, they also wait for and prepare for His Second Coming even though no one knows when that will be.
Dates of Advent
The dates for Advent are not the same every year. Advent 2019 starts on Sunday, December 1 and ends on Tuesday, December 24. The starting date changes, but Advent always ends on Christmas Eve, the day before Christmas Day each year that is celebrated on December 25.
There is a theme for each week of the four weeks of Advent. This is the list of how most churches celebrate Advent.
Week 1 - Sunday, December 1: Hope
Week 2 - Sunday, December 8: Peace
Week 3 - Sunday, December 15: Joy
Week 4 - Sunday, December 22: Love
The universal color for Advent is purple or violet. Some Christian churches use blue or red for their color of Advent. For instance, the Lutheran Book of Worship lists blue as the preferred color for Advent. The Presbyterian Book of Common Worship and the Methodist Book of Worship list either purple or blue as colors for Advent. Neither is right or wrong. It is a preference for a particular church.
An Advent wreath is usually placed in churches with a colored candle placed for each of the four themes. If the church chose purple or violet for its color, then candles of that color are placed in the center of the wreath along with a pink candle. A purple or violet candle is lighted each week, and the pink candle is lighted along with the others for the last week.
Advent Sermons and Scriptures
It is not mandatory, but it would be very helpful if pastors would choose the theme for each week to share with their congregation. There are many sermons that could be used based on hope, peace, joy, and love.
Scriptures pertaining to each theme could be read throughout the worship service as well as music could be played. Everything that can be done to bring the feeling of Advent into a worship service would be appropriate and appreciated by those who want to celebrate the birth of Jesus in a more spiritual way.
Involve the Congregation in Advent
When I was the Director of Christian Education at a church, I prepared the Advent wreath with the colored candles and placed it on a table in the front of the church. Each week I would designate two people to come forward. One would read a scripture that corresponded to the theme while the other person lighted the appropriate candle. It was a very sacred moment for the two participants as well as for the congregation that witnessed the act.
The two people chosen had something in common. For example, I selected a husband and wife for the first week. For the second week, I selected two youths. On the third week, I selected two older parishioners. For the final week, I selected two pastors.
There are many other activities that the entire congregation could take part in. It just takes a little imaginary and creative to make the Advent season a spiritual experience.
Suggested Advent Activities
In case you have never incorporated Advent activities into your life leading up to Christmas, here are a few suggestions.
- Attend Advent services at a local church if your church doesn't observe Advent.
- Play sacred music in your house and car.
- Watch Advent services on television.
- Read scriptures in your Bible surrounding the theme for each week.
- Share what you know about Advent with your family.
Feel free to share in the comments section below your personal Advent memories whether they were at your church or something special you did on your own to prepare for the celebration of the birth of your Lord and Savior. Others might find it interesting and might incorporate the activity into their own celebration.